03/30/2007, 00.00
THAILAND
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Transitional government pledges first post-coup elections for December

Prime minister makes the announcement, but the date still has to be decided. Coup generals had pledged elections for September. Popular dissatisfaction towards the new government is growing as it proves unable to bring political stability to the country.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has announced that general elections will be held in the second half of December of this year. Thai generals had made that pledge when they took over in September 2006 in a bloodless coup against then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

Increasingly impatient, Thais want democracy restored as soon as possible. And realising that, Mr Surayud rejected a military demand for emergency powers to be restored to curtail anti-coup protests scheduled for today in the capital Bangkok.

The premier said a general election would be held on either 16 or 22 December.

The generals had promised elections and a new constitution within a year after they overthrew Thaksin for his alleged corruption. But like other promises this one too was not fulfilled.

The population, initially in favour of the removal of unpopular former prime minister, is growing increasingly dissatisfied with the military-controlled regime.

Except for the military whose budget has gone up, most Thais can’t see much benefit coming from the turnover in the country’s leadership.

Security in the southern provinces, affected by alleged Islamic separatism, has not improved; instead insecurity has spread to central provinces.

Martial law, which was put in place on September 19, 2006, is still enforced in many provinces. And restrictions on civil liberties are blocking economic initiatives and political life.

In a recent survey, support for the government has dropped from 80 per cent down to 40 per cent in just six months.

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